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Joni Donithorne – Rocky Mountain Elementary School

My daughter, Joni Donithorne, teaches at Rocky Mountain Elementary in the Alpine School District. This particular year she teaches a combination third-fourth grade class. Before school began in the fall, Joni was vacationing in Sedona, Arizona. She had her class list of prospective students with her. She sent each one of them a personal note telling them she was glad they were going to be in her class and was looking forward to the new school year. She did this on her vacation! She has taught for many years (as I also have done in the past), and I’ve noticed that she often goes above and beyond the norm, helping her students to feel appreciated and welcomed. As an example, this past Christmas she gave each of her students a blanket to help keep them warm during the cold winter months. She genuinely loves each of her students and conveys that to them in many ways.

She was thoroughly enjoying her few days of vacation during the Christmas holidays. The night before she was to return to school the next morning she remarked, “Well, vacation is over, time to go back to work,” and she sighed a small sigh. Shortly after that, the doorbell rang. One of Joni’s students, nine year old Seth, was standing there with his mother. He was holding a plate of homemade cookies obviously made by a nine year old. They had been ‘decorated’ to look like smiling faces. Attached was a note that read, “Mrs. Donithorne, these are ‘Happy Cookies’. I am HAPPY that you are my teacher. See you tomorrow.”

Obviously, that cold winter’s night air was replaced by a warm and happy teacher’s heart that seemed to melt right in the snow. Those are the rewards of the teaching profession. She certainly deserves those kinds of rewards in her Mother’s opinion. I am happy to nominate her for the Teacher Feature Award.

-Lavona Areghini